A few weeks ago a woman arrived at my door with a big box of meat.
I wish this kind of thing happened more often, frankly, especially when the meat comes from a place like Todenham Manor Farm. The story behind Todenham Manor Farm is lovely, if a bit odd. Irayne was a London mum with a 5-year-old and a baby when she and her husband bought a rundown farm in Gloucestershire along with the surrounding land and, er, started farming cattle. Soon after they added pigs. And after Irayne visited the local abbattoir to understand the process of butchering animals, her husband built her a butchery. As you do.
This all might sound a bit twee. But when you talk to Irayne, like I was able to, you understand that for this regular London mum, raising animals so they have a nice life and producing quality food to eat is something that she’s become passionate about. The pigs live outdoors all year round so they can root and forage. “I know the names of the animals that go into our steaks and sausages,” she told me.
Irayne bought me a selection of their award-winning outdoor-reared pork sausages, home-cured bacon and 28-day aged pedigree beef. (They won 6 Great Taste Awards in 2013.) Raymond Blanc has called their products “stunning”.
The meats are available in Todenham Manor’s newly launched Christmas boxes, in combinations featuring gammon joint, beef joint, streaky bacon, and sausages.
And oh what sausages!
The beef was mouthwatering (we had it with a green peppercorn sauce). My husband loved the back bacon (I prefer the kind without rind). But for me it was the sausages wot done it.
When I lived in the U.S. I never really liked sausages all that much. Americans don’t really embrace them the way we do over here, perhaps because in the US we’re less likely to be exposed to the great small producers of quality sausages like we get here in the UK. Even so, Todenham Manor’s sausages were some of the most delicious I’ve tasted. They’re 80% pork and wonderfully seasoned. Irayne & Co. make them themselves.
If you’re anticipating serving up a joint, or a turkey draped in bacon or sausages for Christmas morning, take a look at Todenham Manor’s Christmas boxes. Some of Irayne’s animals just might do the trick.
I received a sample box of meat from the farm. All the opinions in this post are my own.
Boxes are available to feed 6 or 12; prices start at £80, with £9.95 delivery to anywhere on mainland UK. www.todenhammanorfarm.co.uk/shop/